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Oct 3, 2012

Clutter, you ain't licked me yet!



The downside to being a person who finds most of his possessions in the street, the dumpster, the thrift store, or the flea market, is that when you actually have to buy something new in a store, you can experience sticker shock.

I've been reorganizing lately -- or trying to -- and after debating the pros and cons of buying more storage containers, and making not one but two trips to The Container Store today, I decided I needed to bite the bullet.  The kind I bought are pretty big -- 15.5 gallons -- and can hold a lot of fabric.  I can't tell you how many of these I've found in the trash or at Goodwill, but right now I can't be walking the streets in hopes I stumble upon some.  But would you believe these cost $14.99 each?!   Is it me or is that a lot of money for an empty plastic box with a lid?

The alternative was to weed through my fabric stash so I wouldn't need more containers; I tried that.  There wasn't much I wanted to get rid of.  And some fabrics -- fleece, terry cloth -- simply do not compress much.  I have a lot of stuff sitting in plastic bags that needs to be in a storage box.  Boxes are much easier to keep dust-free, and since they're clear, you can see what's in them without having to label them. 



You may notice that these have been "themed" for Halloween -- hence the orange lids and Halloween labels.  I only bought them because they were the cheapest ones I could find at that size, but come on.  Next I want to organize my stash better, so all the cottons are in one box, the wools in another, the sheets/muslin fabrics in another, etc.

The problem with buying more storage boxes in that they're going to get filled, at which point I'm going to feel like I need even more.  I'm hoping to avoid that, however.  At a certain point (when they're stacked to the ceiling?), there's simply no more room in the apartment.

Here's some stuff I threw out today:

These cheapie heels threatened to turn Cathy's toes into hamburger; a bad thrift store purchase (Note to self: avoid second-hand Payless).



Another foot-unfriendly discard -- we've upgraded.



I finally threw out the pair of shorts (formerly long pants I'd made myself) that I wore nearly every day this summer.  As you can see -- and I mean SEE -- it was time.





In my stash I dug out this forgotten piece of vintage plaid wool an MPB reader sent me years ago.  It would be great for a 40's style men's shirt -- or maybe another WWII-era jumper!





It is a good idea to root through one's stash occasionally, no?

In closing, friends, it may be time to resurrect "The Daily Ditch."  With our imminent Halloween Sew-Along, there's going to be a lot of stuff coming in, and I must make room for it all.

Questions:

1) Do you think $14.99 is a lot for a plastic storage container?  What's the alternative?  I don't have room for a piece of furniture and at least these are clear and flexible, i.e., they can hold fabric and lots of other things.

2) Do you ever reach a point where you can't create another thing until you clean up the mess around you?  I've reached that point.

Clutter, your days are numbered!  (I think.)

46 comments:

  1. $14.99 is a lot to pay for a storage container. The orange ones go on sale the day after Halloween. Also, you can get them much cheaper at WalMart or Target or Home Depot.

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  2. You should be grateful! Up here where I float around (Bethel, AK), they run around $24.99 for the same size, if you're lucky. If not, they are more or you cannot even find them.

    The Rubbermaid variety that is not clear is affectionately referred to up here as "Alaska Luggage" because people pack them like luggage and put them on the airplanes!

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  3. On Monday I got tired of waiting for people to come and get the material they said they wanted and tossed it out. 2 green garbage bags worth. Mostly upholstry material and small pieces for quilts.I told the lady upstairs before she moved I would find homes for her fabric and managed to do so for 10 of the 12 large bags worth.
    I will never help someone out like that again.

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  4. That is much too expensive. If you can find a Home depot or Target or G-d forfend, Walmart, you can get large containers for under $10. The Container Store may be trendy, but their prices are top-of-the-line. As for de-cluttering, be ruthless. After unloading the car at Goodwill or a local charity thrift shop, I always feel free (and virtuous) and ready to shop again.

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  5. Oh my glob, that's a ton of money for an empty box. I just got a ton of those. We are in the process of moving and I got like 10 or so for my sewing stuff and other basement odds and end. They were only $6 each at either lowes or Home Depot. They were the 15 gallon size, solid blue Rubbermaid variety. I can get really distracted while sewing. Sometimes I start something then get a new thought and have to start it before it escapes me (hello adult ADHD). I'm really trying to work on this but so far I have piles of stuff everywhere. It's like a vertical time capsule of sewing piles.

    Good luck on finding affordable tubs!

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  6. I don't think 14.99 is too much - I imagine they'd cost at least as much in TO. And besides, it costs to manufacture those things. I do agree that they're not the most fun way to spend money. Till you get everything cleaned up - at which point they're golden. I mean orange.

    I never reach a point where things are so messy that I can't continue because I abhor clutter (like in a pathological way). Mind you, this reno I'm going through is cluttertastic. And I'm contemplating losing my mind.

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  7. I buy my 18-gallon totes from HD at around 8 or 9 dollars each.

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  8. margarette laizureOctober 3, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    we will continually need to purge. i do it regularly. sure, sometimes i throw something away and it turns out i need it later, but its okay i can deal, because i hAve an abundance of projects & ideas. why not gather some sewing friends and trade stuff!?

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  9. Peter, if you need more containers, wait until Black Friday and the after Christmas sales. Most of them go 50% off then! That's how I accumulated mine... and how I'm planning to acquire a few more this year. I ended up with some not-so-transparent ones, so all of mine are labeled. I still have things to sort through in my fabric closet, but most of it is contained in bins. ;) Maybe one day, I'll get ambitious and take you a picture!

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  10. While that IS a tad expensive, it's always good to point out that sometimes you get what you pay for. My stash is mostly in Rubbermaid brand totes, though I do have 3 or 4 very large clear containers from the Container Store. We're a military family and move a lot and in my experience, the cheap containers don't hold up as well, so I'm willing to shell out more money for them. Also, I prefer the dark ones, since that way the fabric is safe from fading. Then again, I have my stash organized by fabric type and then sub-divided if necessary (knits are divided into solids, stripes, floral and misc. prints, for example).

    I have a hard time making myself clean as I go, so often at the end of a project or 2, I have to stop and do a major clean-up of my sewing room, so I definitely know the feeling. I'm particularly bad about refiling pattern pieces that have been traced once I've finished with the project.

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  11. This summer I spent $150 on an Elfa storage unit for my "currently in work" stash (the rest is in clear plastic bins in the garage), so I think you got off easy! But I'm one of those people who can't create if there's too much clutter, so it's worth it too me. Plus, the top gave me a new spot to store hats!

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  12. I cannot buy plastic storage containers retail - every fiber in my body refuses. They are so abundant at Goodwill, and I also somehow feel bad buying plastic straight from the factory in China.

    Also, I store my fabric in a cabinet with glass doors - that way I can see them, they don't get dusty, they stay organized and they actually make the cabinet and room look really nice. And it's so much more aestetically pleasing than plastic ;-)

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    Replies
    1. These were actually made in the USA. Yahoo!

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  13. Having a door to my creative craft space (shared by my husband's office space, guest room and storage room) is a beautiful thing. rofl. Mess? What mess???

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  14. Having a death in the family I am not up to sewing, but need to fondle fabric. So, a good time to stash dive. I am dividing into winter and summer, and then sub-dividing into knits, velvets, etc., etc. I give away what is scratchy, and keep some "ugly" for muslins. Nieces can choose from what I don't want. I have some see-through bins (beware, too cheap and they crack). I also have a rescued teak unit, with very, very deep shelves, and some drawers, and cupboards. This is almost a full wall. I can roll fabric into a saussage shape, and stack, with the end pointing out. RE: yesterday's vintage topic, I forgot to mention Eithne Farry's book, Yeah! I Made it Myself/Diy fashion for the Not Very Domestic Goddess. This is self-draft, with rescued fabrics, and vintage feel. Very fun and funny book. Cathie in Quebec.

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  15. I reached the point of utter clutterdom today. I have projects I want to do but couldn't see the floor of the sewing room (read cupboard). So three huge bin bags later and a large bag of random junk off to the second hand shop, I can vacuum and may even have room for the ironing board in here!

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  16. They are less than half that price at Ikea in Brooklyn. And, there's a free ferry there from lower Manhattan on the weekend that's really fun.

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  17. Unless I'm totally crazy...that is a very nice piece of the Crawford Tartan!! :D

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    Replies
    1. Indeed. Perhaps it belonged to Joan herself!

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  18. Target has basic Sterilite 56-qt boxes for $5.99. http://www.target.com/p/sterilite-glacier-blue-storage-box-56-qt/-/A-13771723. The cheap ones don't have the sturdy clamping handles like yours, but is that really necessary?

    As for de-cluttering - This weekend is our church youth group garage sale. It is my favorite time to get rid of "stuff".

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  19. I am a total neat freak and a person who hates to waste money, so buying fabric only to purge it would kill me. When I (recently) needed more room, I sewed up fabric into garments to give away. Now I am sewing for myself. Fabric bought in the last several years for myself, I am finally and fanatically making into garments. I am looking forward to empty bins and would gladly donate them to you if I could.

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  20. I think $15 is too much for a storage container. I'm guessing they would have cheaper ones in the same size range at Target. Good luck decluttering.

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  21. You have started on a slippery slope Peter...those plastic bins, somehow full never any less full of fabric, have a way of multiplying in corners..

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  22. I have often thought that these plastic containers are overpriced. I don't know where the ones you get are manufactured, but the ones we get in Australia are manufactured in Asia for a mere cents. Sometimes I find the decluttering is a good way to stimulate my creative juices and, like you, I sometimes find things I'd forgotten.

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  23. As a lifelong garbage connaiseeur, I have to say that NY garbage is probably the world's best. So I can only encourage you to keep up your "shopping" habits. However the quality of the findings must be balanced out by some regular purging, otherwise some day you'll end up mummified, suffocated under a fallen floor-to-ceiling pile of fabric. It's not a pretty thing, and I can only urge you to keep up the dump-a-day thing.

    That said, I think those clear plastic boxes are great. They contain moths, they keep out dust, they allow you to see what you have to some extent. And there are a few things that the most dedicated garbage snoopers never find: bookcases, clear plastic boxes, everyone keeps those when they have them. So: worth their weight in gold. One problem I'd have with yours (orange! wish we could trade) is that imho they're too big. You get much better control of the stash with letter-size boxes, finer-grained sorting, more visibility. I keep mine on shelves, which gives even better visibility and is easier to handle.

    The drawback of these boxes is that your stash becomes essentially non-compressible. That also brings up the topic of why you have that much of a fabric stash. Clearly any time you want fabric in NY, you can just go out and get some right then. Which you do, just about every time. It's not like you're limited to the offerings online :-). At the very least, I think you need to ditch the entire muslin stash. You can go out any day and get muslin fabric in 20mn. So why keep any at all? Just keep one muslin's worth, in case you get inspired int he middle of the night, and ditch the rest.

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  24. Peter, I ditched putting fabric into those htings years ago - I got so tired of stacking and unstacking them to get to stuff. Instead I spent a lot less (in total) on 6 foot tall two door cupboards that come in a flat pack, and simply folded the fabric onto the shelves. Tidy, east to use, easy to get into and out of. It's been worth it!

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  25. The Container Store is super expense I have to say. Do you have Amazon Prime? Free shipping comes with the membership. We do most of our shopping that way now and we live in the 'burbs.

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  26. I have one of those wire shelving systems from Ikea ... the wire baskets slide into it like drawers. It lives in the closet in my sewing room. Of course, I have way more fabric than will fit in the baskets, so I use lidded cardboard copy paper boxes ... don't sealed plastic bins keep in moisture and potentially ruin fabric?

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  27. Well, I've paid 5.00 (each) for five containers from Lowe's and they fell apart immediately. With all things, you get what you pay for. Sturdiness is essential in storage and I bet you'll have these for a very long time.

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  28. i use these sorts of containers for my stash too, as the only space to store my stash is under the sewing table (no wall space, period house, minimal proper storage ...). Yes I guess they are expensive for a plastic box but I love that they keep out insects and make the piles of fabric look sort of organised!

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  29. Gotta be honest: I don't think the Container Store is that economical. They have awesome stuff, but I always shop around before I buy anything from them.

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    Replies
    1. They have sales at least twice a year, and someone I know uses a buying service and gets a small rebate when she orders from them.

      Delete
  30. $14.99 - if they last, no, that's not too much. Don't forget to add in shipping or cost to get to the other locations, on price comparisons. Too many see saving $2 on an item and totally forget about the $5-10 in shipping or gas to get to the other store. Where it was made is also a consideration.

    I got a bunch of Sterlite brand containers at W*mart, beware of stacking them - the lids of the bottom containers will warp and crack, at least the ones in the attic did (holiday decoration storage, not fabric). I have to make sure I stack them alternating directions.

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    Replies
    1. I have two stacks of 10 Container Store boxes and they're quite stable. I like that if I want to change the position of something I can pull out two drawers and exchange places, instead of having to dismantle the tower of drawers.

      Only in one case so far has a newer model drawer not fit in the older slot.

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  31. forgot about question 2 - YES!!! I can put up with mess until something snaps and then I have to clean. It doesn't matter if it's the sewing room, kitchen, or my areas at work.

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  32. #1. $14.99 seems a bit high to me, but I live in the Phoenix Metro area (AZ) where stores have very competetive pricing - most of the time! I have some locking-lid, clear Sterlite containers that were about $5 each for either 12 or 15 quarts. I'm thinking 15 quarts--I'm not home, so I can't check. I only stack them four-high, so have not had any issues with the lids sagging or cracking. They also are stored inside the apartment--have a feeling they would not fare well in my exterior storage area in the summer! And they definitely would not survive summer in an attic!

    I also have 20-gallon Rubbermaid totes with locking lids that I usually pay $6 to $7 each on sale. They are ugly, solid gray. Each tote is numbered (on one end and one side) and I maintain an inventory of what is in each tote so I know where to find things. Love the "Find" feature in Excel! *LOL*

    #2. I used to have a dedicated studio/office and space was not an issue. Now I live in a relatively small (by southwestern standards) apartment (700 sq.ft.), and clutter can drive me crazy very quickly! I'm reasonably neat, so it takes a while for clutter to develop. I added draperies to a solid back wall in the dining room, which conceal two sets of wire shelves (holding microwave, convection oven, humongous Kitchen-Aid mixer, as well as storage containers of fabric, craft supplies and slightly out-of-season clothing--it's rare, but occasionally need a sweatshirt in summer), my Pilates platform and manual treadmill. And the vacuum cleaner, and a few other odds and ends that don't fit in the two closets.

    It's a bit challenging living in a smaller space, but the trade-off is having a little more free time and less house work and landscape maintenance!


    Taja

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  33. For storage, I go to my local Tuesday Morning or TJMaxx and buy gift boxes. They are bright, cheap, and decent cardboard sides and tops/lids. I organize by project, and put a small label on the box. I leave off the bow :)

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  34. I use re-usable supermarket totes to store my fabrics (canvas or polypropylene. I place my fabrics in gallon size ziplock bags which keep the fabrics dust free. The totes are easy to move around. I also use photo storage boxes for my tools, threads, fabrics scraps, etc. which are always on sale at Michael's. Clear scrapbooking boxes are a good alternative for large amounts of fabrics.

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  35. For those lofty fabrics that take up a lot of room, get yourself some extra super large 'zip-loc' style bags and then rummage through the clutter until you find both the vacuum cleaner AND the hose.
    After stuffing your fabric in a bag, close the 'zip' with the vacuum hose stuffed into the bag. Turn on that sucker and watch the bag and fabric shrink like a certain appendage does in a sub-zero Minnesota winter.
    There are special storage bags with vacuum ports in them, but they are quite pricey. But with a little practice, a simple heavyweight 'zipper' bag works just fine.
    Now go shrink something! You'll be amazed!

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  36. You're going to hate me, but I bought Target brand bins the same size for $5.99 EACH. I bought all they had (6).

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  37. The Container Store is expensive, but their stuff lasts so don’t feel bad. The cheap clear ones seem to crack easily. The solid cheapies are not as brittle, but you can’t see what’s inside. I use them, but need to label them.

    I also use the giant Ziploc bags with the vacuum, but they have drawbacks, too. It’s a pain in the butt every time you want to go in and get something, because then you have to go through the sealing up process again.

    I think you made a good choice.

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    Replies
    1. I've gone through so many iterations of plastic storage from local hardware stores and online that I stick with TCS. Their stuff lasts.

      I also have Elfa shelves from them. Their customer service is usually excellent.

      Delete
  38. I use zipper bags for my patterns as well.

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  39. 1) Do you think $14.99 is a lot for a plastic storage container?

    As I have numerous $20 clear stacking containers from The Container Store, I'd have to say no. I've considered alternatives, but at least the TCS tends to keep the same product lines and you can add to the storage from year to year.

    2) Do you ever reach a point where you can't create another thing until you clean up the mess around you? I've reached that point.

    It's not just creating, it's being able to live or think, although my standard for mess is pretty liberal.

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    Replies
    1. I sometimes use jumbo ziplock bags to hold small stuff, or to carry it back and forth, but I still need a hard container.

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  40. creative paralysis until sewroom rearranged, sorted and new energy flow is achieved--living it now. Not a big fan of the plastic bins.

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